Maths Sparks: Investigating the impact of outreach on pupils' attitudes towards mathematics

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Title: Maths Sparks: Investigating the impact of outreach on pupils' attitudes towards mathematics
Authors: Cronin, Anthony
Ní Shúilleabháin, Aoibhinn
Lewanowski-Breen, Emily
Kennedy, Christopher
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Date: 2017
Abstract: In this article, we examine the impact of participating in a series of mathematics workshops on secondary-school pupils' attitudes towards mathematics. A six-week program, entitled 'Maths Sparks', was run by a team of lecturers and students at a research-intensive university in the Republic of Ireland. The outreach series aimed to promote mathematics to pupils from schools designated as socio-economically disadvantaged (DEIS - Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools), who are less likely to study mathematics at higher level than their non-DEIS counterparts (Smyth et al. 2015). Sixty-two pupils participated in the research and data was generated through pre-post questionnaires based on the Fennema-Sherman (1976) framework of Attitudes to Mathematics. Findings suggest that while male students initially had more positive attitudes towards mathematics, there was a narrowing in this gender gap across several factors on the Fennema-Sherman scale as a result of participation in the programme. The most prominent of these features were: 'Attitudes towards success in mathematics' and 'Motivation towards mathematics'. Findings suggest that the construct and delivery of this Mathematics outreach programme, involving undergraduate students and academic staff, may provide a useful structure in benefitting pupils' attitudes towards mathematics and encouraging their study of the subject.
Funding Details: Science Foundation Ireland
Type of material: Journal Article
Publisher: Higher Education Academy
Copyright (published version): 2017 Higher Education Academy
Keywords: Maths Sparks;Mathematics outreach;Widening participation;DEIS schools;Student-staff collaboration;Pedagogy
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Appears in Collections:Mathematics and Statistics Research Collection

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